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SCV youth interested in entrepreneurship

Programs at schools help teens network

Posted: November 8, 2009 10:05 p.m.
Updated: November 9, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Peter Yahiayan, 17, displays two items from the company he started at age 15 called Legendary Threads. Peter Yahiayan, 17, displays two items from the company he started at age 15 called Legendary Threads.
Peter Yahiayan, 17, displays two items from the company he started at age 15 called Legendary Threads.
Peter Yahiayan, 17, right, points to one of his T-shirts available as he and company officers, from left, Galen Flynn, Erin Wallerstein and Roxy Cardenas discuss the product catalog at Golden Valley High School's virtual entrepreneur class on Tuesday. Peter Yahiayan, 17, right, points to one of his T-shirts available as he and company officers, from left, Galen Flynn, Erin Wallerstein and Roxy Cardenas discuss the product catalog at Golden Valley High School's virtual entrepreneur class on Tuesday.
Peter Yahiayan, 17, right, points to one of his T-shirts available as he and company officers, from left, Galen Flynn, Erin Wallerstein and Roxy Cardenas discuss the product catalog at Golden Valley High School's virtual entrepreneur class on Tuesday.
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Growing up in the Santa Clarita Valley, 17-year-old Andrew Acda and his friends found themselves with few fun options on Friday and Saturday nights.

So the high school senior decided to start a business to meet the needs of an under-served local teenage market.

For the past six months, Acda has been working on a business and finance plan to establish an underage teen nightclub for youngsters between 15 and 20 years old.

"It's going to be a fun place for the minors to hang out," he said.

"I definitely think it's going to take a lot of kids off the streets."

Acda tried to write a business plan on his own after reading business books. But it didn't turn out very well.

He soon turned to the Small Business Development Center hosted by College of the Canyons and, specifically, the center's Young Entrepreneur Program, where he's received free one-on-one business counseling for the last two months.

Along with establishing a business plan, Acda said the program gave him networking opportunities, where he met other young professionals hoping to start their own businesses.

He hopes to open the nightclub, known as Club Eve, in the first quarter of 2010.

Young Entrepreneurs in SCV
Acda is part of a growing network of young entrepreneurs in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Nina Grooms-Lee, business counselor at the Small Business Development Center, said state data points to a growing number of people ages 14 to 27 who are interested in starting their own businesses.

"We're definitely seeing an increase," she said.

The Young Entrepreneurs Program has served the Santa Clarita Valley for two years, providing workshops, counseling and networking opportunities for young business people, she said.

About 200 young entrepreneurs are part of this year's program, Grooms-Lee said.

The Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour held at College of the Canyons last week brought more than 550 participants who listened to experts talk about growing a business.

A virtual approach
The Regional Occupational Program, hosted by the William S. Hart Union High School District, has offered a virtual enterprise class for two years.

The 15 "employees" in the class - mainly juniors and seniors in high school - run the virtual business Acoustic Cakes and Apparel.

The business specializes in roughly 20 cupcakes, inspired and named after famous guitarists.

"The students are learning every aspect of creating a business as a young entrepreneur," said Summer O'Brien, consultant for the virtual business.

Students are hired for various positions, where their duties earn them virtual paychecks that they use to pay bills and personal expenses, O'Brien said.

"They're not coming to class. They're coming to work," O'Brien said.

The students test their business skills throughout the school year by attending trade fairs.

While the cupcakes and money may be virtual, Acoustic's chief executive officer, Peter Yahiayan, is no virtual businessman.

The 18-year-old is running his second apparel business, named Legendary Threads.

The Golden Valley High School senior, named Outstanding Young Entrepreneur of the Year at last week's entrepreneurship tour, enjoys creating his own brand while establishing a business.

The virtual enterprise class taught Yahiayan about the details of running a business.

"This opened my eyes that there's a lot more to it," he said.

 

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